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ALLERGOL. ET IMMUNOPATHOL., 1998;26(1):35-36





Under the auspice of the SOCIETE FRANÇAISE D''ALLERGOLOGIE ET D''IMMUNOLOGIE CLINIQUE (SFAIC), this symposium was held in Paris. January 7, 1998.

Allergy to natural rubber latex (latex allergy) was first recognized as a clinical problem just a little more than 10 years ago. Since then, it has become an important occupational health issue, affecting upwards of 10% of the people whose work involves contact with latex goods such as surgical, medical or household gloves. And it also affects children with congenital deformities, for example spina bifida, who undergo multiple corrective surgical interventions.

Latex allergy has attracted the attention of clinicians and scientists all over the world.

Knowledge about latex allergy, specially concerning the proteins in latex that cause this condition, has increased exponentially during this decade, especially in the last 2-3 years. And important changes are being made in response to the problem of latex allergy by the manufactures of latex globes and other latex goods, by the people and institutions that use them, and by the regulatory agencies that control their quality.

The officers of the SFAIC therfore decided that the time was ripe to hold an international symposium on latex allergy to provide an opportunity for people in the health care professions, including doctors, dentists, nurses, pharmacists, etc., pharmaceutical industry personnel, regulatory agency personnel as well as those who manufacture and sell latex goods to be brought up-to-date on the latest development concerning latex allergy.

What better time than just before the three-day Paris Allergy Meeting (Journées Parisiennes d''Allergie)! So we are inviting not only all French doctors and nurses but also health care people and those in related spheres from all over Europe to join us in Paris on January 7th to hear European experts give them the latest information on a broad range of topics touching latex allergy.

The first session will begin with an introduction to latex and the rubber industry presented by Dr. Paul Cacioli, Director of Research and Development for Ansell Healthcare. Dr. Cacioli will be coming to Paris from Malaysia, the world''s leading source of natural rubber latex.

Clinical manifestations of latex allergy and the sometimes difficult problem of diagnosis will be discussed by Dr. Kristiina Turjanmaa, whom we all recognize as the world''s leading authority on these aspects of latex allergy. She comes to us from the Department of Dermatology of the Tampere University Hospital in Tampere, Finland, This first session will end with a review by Professor Daniel Vervloet, Director of the Service de Pneumo-Allergologie et the Hôpital Sainte-Marguerite in Marseille (he also happens to be the current President of the SFAIC) of the epidemiology of latex allergy. His talk will focus on the prevalence of latex allergy in the general population (very low), in health care workers and rubber industry workers (mentioned above), and in children with multiple surgeries (relatively high).

The mid-morning session will begin with a presentation on latex protein allergens by Dr. Timo Palosuo, who is from the National Public Health Institute in Helsinki, Finland, These proteins are the latex components that are responsible for latex allergy. Dr. Palosuo and his colleagues are the source of much of the information that is known about latex allergens.

Next, Dr. Levy and Professor Leynadier, respectively Consultant and Director of the Centre d''Allegie at the Rothschild Hospital in Paris, will discuss one of the very intriguing aspects of latex allergy, namely, the concomitant existence of food allergy in many latex-allergic patients. They will be followed by Dr. Lars Yman, from Pharmacia & Upjohn Diagnostics in Uppsala, Sweden. Dr. Yman, whose company is the source of the most widely used laboratory tets for the diagnosis of latex allergy ­the Cap System assay­ will discuss some recent developments in serological diagnosis of this condition.

After the lunch break, there will be time to view the posters that have been submitted from various European groups, and then the most interesting of them will be discussed briefly by their authors. Following these presentations, we will hear from Dr. H.U. Koch, who works in the Dermatology Clinic of the University of Erlangen, Germany, about regulatory aspects of latex allergy. Dr. Koch has been actively developing methods to control the protein and allergen content of latex gloves, methods that will become part of the European Community regulations in the near future. Then, Professor F. Conso, who is Director of the Service de Pathologie Professionnelle at the Hôpital Cochin in Paris, will discuss occupational health aspects of latex allergy, which is of considerable importance to health care personnel. Lastly, Dr. Thomas Fuchs, from the Department of Dermatology of the Georg-August University in Göttingen, Germany, will present a general review of latex allergy with a focus on preventive strategies that can and should be applied in health care settings.

The Symposium will end with a Round Table Discussion, giving an opportunity for the speakers to pose questions to each other and to respond to questions from the audience.

We believe that this International Symposium will draw a large and diversified audience, and we care certain that it will lead to greater understanding of the problem of latex allergy throughout the health care world. And we also hope that this information will reach the grand public, because it is a problem that needs to be brought to their attention.